After around a 20-year absence, Daiwa’s iconic Powermesh rods are back with seven new Specialist models for the big-fish angler.
The full collection includes a bespoke two-piece barbel rod; 13ft, 14ft and 15ft float rods; and 11ft 6ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft 6ins feeder rods with graded 1.5oz, 2oz and 3oz quivertips.
All are constructed from an identical high grade of reinforced carbon, the weave of which gives them that powerful, steely backbone we associate with the Powermesh name.
The rods are furnished to a very high standard, incorporating original Fuji reel seats, full-length cork handles and hard-wearing stainless steel frame guides with lightweight LS ceramic-lined rings.
To that little lot you can add a folding keeper ring, aluminium butt cap and a padded sleeve large enough to house a reel, so rods can be taken to the bank ready made-up.
With ‘demanding situations’ high on my live test objective sheet, a trip to a tackle-devouring stretch of the Trent was in order.
The river here is very shallow and clear, running fast over clean strips of gravel interspersed with waving fronds of streamer weed. You might just catch a glimpse of a pristine golden flank as a big barbel momentarily reveals itself.
As they say, ‘other methods are available’, but nothing beats presenting a bait beneath a float fixed top and bottom. From matching the weight of the float to the river’s flow, to slowing the travel of your bait at just the right moment, or mending the line before running your float through at the same pace as your loosefeed, trotting is an art form. Get it right and at some point your landing net will be graced with a truly stunning wild-born fish.
The rod on test, the 13ft Daiwa Powermesh Specialist Float, allows the use of heavy lines without feeling heavy or cumbersome in the hand, and will cast a waggler or stick float as the situation demands. There’s enough cushioning in the blank to permit the use of sensibly sized hooks and hooklengths.
A rod with all these qualities is a rare beast indeed, and on a day when the river had extra flow after recent rain it cast a hefty 6g alloy-stemmed balsa float without a hitch. At just 6.7oz, the rod caused me hardly any wrist fatigue while I waded the stream.
But it’s when a big fish is hooked that this Powermesh shows its true mettle. It boasts loads of mid-section persuasive power, but the sweet parabolic action cushions sudden lunges when needed, and it transmits plenty of feel through the blank.
In fact, it’s nothing like the broom handles that are often passed off as specialist rods.
As well as being a river rod, Daiwa’s new 13ft Specialist Powermesh Float is ideal for big tench and bream on the float.
It will cast a big slider or bodied waggler a very long way when needed. It can also be used for big carp in the margins.
The rod is built to stand a bit of abuse, and with all that versatility it’s sure to find its way into the rod holdalls of a host of big-fish specialists.
French giant Sensas has added several superb feeder rods to its comprehensive range.
The Black Arrow comes in three categories – 300, 500 and 800 – and within each there are different length rods to cover everything from light leger work through to blasting a feeder 80-plus yards.
The 800 series are top-end rods, starting at £179.99 for the slender 11ft model and rising to £249.99 for the 14ft Super Heavy model. Four others are midway between.
I first got to have a play with the rods at the Sensas HQ just before Christmas, when UK boss Mark Downes was positively bursting with enthusiasm about his new arrivals. Forget what had gone before, he told me, these were the best rods Sensas had produced and, more importantly, they are designed specifically for the UK market. They looked good and felt lovely in the hand, but as ever, there’s only one way to give them a proper going over – hook something that pulls back!
With the pick of the 800 series to go at I went for the 11ft model. This is your typical tip rod that’ll do everything from river bream fishing to a spot of mixed fishing on lakes, and arrives with three tips of various grades.
I headed to Kingfisher Lake on the Townsend complex in the heart of the Fens, home to lots of big skimmers plus F1s, crucians, tench and, of course, plenty of carp. There’s a sunken island to cast to at around 40 yards, a good enough chuck to test the rod’s action and accuracy when teamed with a little flatbed Method feeder.
First cast was on the money, and made so easy by the cracking through action of the Nanoflex blank. It’s smooth, and lacks the overly-aggressive power of some rods that can see a cast fall short due to the lack of forgiveness down the rod. Bite number one to three dead red maggots was not long in coming, and a 1lb skimmer was duly wound in – they don’t fight much on a size 16 hook and 4lb hooklink.
To get a good idea of how the rod acts when a fish is on I really leant into the next one, a bigger skimmer of around 2lb.
The rod is superby soft down to the mid-section, and you can really put a bend in it without any danger of a hook-pull. Already I was thinking that this was the sort of bream rod I could have done with 20 years ago when fishing the Fen drains and River Welland.
Skimmers are all well and good but they don’t exactly fight. A change was needed to get a bigger fish, so on went a banded 6mm pellet and after a few minutes, a 3lb F1 obliged.
This was more like it! On the strike the rod locked up quickly to set the hook but then relaxed as the battle began. Once again, leaning into the fish sent the Black Arrow into a perfectly-crafted bend but still had plenty more to give when the fish took off.
Once under the rod-tip, which is where a lot of fish are lost as they bounce around, the rod cushioned every lunge handsomely, and the F1 was netted. A dozen more followed, plus a few more skimmers, and none posed a problem. Nor did I suffer a hook pull or a crack-off on the strike. That was remarkable, as I can be cack-handed at times.
The true test would be when a proper carp turned up and, sure enough, one did. I can’t fib and say the fight wasn’t without a few nervy moments but nothing to send the old ticker into overdrive.
I would say that the Black Arrow is not a rod for dealing with carp alone, as it is too soft, but then that’s not what it was built to do. After all, you wouldn’t fish the pole with a match kit for big fish, would you?
Our Verdict: From the moment I hooked that first fish I liked the rod. It’s soft, forgiving, casts like a dream and you can get anything out that you hook. I wouldn’t fish for carp with it, though, but on a mixed fishery or a trip out for bream and roach on a slow-flowing river it’s a belter. With other options in the range, Sensas Black Arrow rods are all you’ll need if you take your feeder fishing seriously.
BUY NOW for £94.99 at Chapmans Angling
Preston Innovations has recently introduced four rods aimed at anglers who fish commercials. The Monster range includes two Carp Feeders, a Method Feeder and a Pellet Waggler model.
All are packed with key features such as unique low-profile reel seats that bring the reel closer to the hand, making the rods easier to fish with. To these you can add EVA butt and thumb grips for added casting support, and low-profile lined guides that greatly reduce tangles and the likelihood of snap-offs on the cast.
Two equal-length high modulus carbon sections make the rods a doddle to carry to your peg ready made-up. All this adds up to innovative, well-built rods with plenty of key features, utilising the latest technology. Despite this they are priced sensibly enough not to cause the missus to throw a hissy fit when the Barclaycard bill hits the hall carpet.
Not that these rods are merely cosmetically pleasing – Preston has refined their performance, which results in a slightly beefier backbone than before. You get more casting clout and extra pulling power through mid-sections to show the biggest of fish who’s boss.
So, with the summer sun in full water- warming mode, and carp cruising about all over the surface everywhere I’ve visited, it was high time I took a much closer look at the new Monster Pellet Waggler.
This 11ft rod, the name of which says it all, has had plenty of input from world-renowned anglers Tommy Pickering and Des Shipp. Together they probably know more about how a fishing rod needs to perform than the rest of us put together.
My live test venue was Steve Gregory’s Horseshoe Lake, on the day-ticket Rushfield complex near Lincoln. Its heavyweight carp are suckers for their pellets, and always willing to feed close to the surface – ideal candidates for pellet waggler tactics.
My set-up was simple enough – nothing more complex than a 6lb reel line matched to a 6g pellet waggler float, 0.17mm hooklength and size 16 hook with a 6mm banded pellet.
The rod will cast floats up to around 15g, but there’s not quite enough whip in the tip for it to cope with anything much less than about 4g.
Firing in little more than half a dozen 6mm pellets every 20 seconds or so, it wasn’t long before dark shapes hove into view as soon as the feed hit the water. However, as often happens on a well-fished venue, as soon as the float splashed down, the fish disappeared.
The trick is to feed twice, immediately before and after casting. But you will also need to feather the line, so that the float lands with a gentle kiss rather than a sloppy smacker on the water’s surface. Get it right and bites will be savage. But you need to get your hooked carp out of the feeding zone as quickly and quietly as possible.
To do this you need the reel’s clutch set quite tight, but not locked up. Then, with the rod tip kept as low as possible to the water, lean into the fish. Without changing the rod’s position, pull and wind at the same time until your quarry is within netting range.
Once you’ve done this a couple of times, playing even the largest carp becomes pretty straightforward, provided you have full confidence in your kit. And this is where a rod with the performance of the Monster Pellet Waggler really earns its corn. Its progressive action will cope with all the lunges and head-shakes of a big carp with enough muscle through the middle to lower section areas to keep you in charge at all times.
Even when the blank is under full parabolic compression its non-locking action provides enough of a safety buffer for you to dish it out without hook-pulls or snapped lines.
The blank was able to deal equally well with other species. Plenty of smaller F1s and ide joined the party, and although they don’t have the fighting qualities of big carp they are still welcome weight-builders in a match. With some other pellet waggler models these smaller fish tend to come off at the net when the rod is held in a vertical position. But I can happily report that such irksome events don’t occur with the Preston rod.
Preston Innovations’ new 11ft Monster Pellet Waggler rod is the ‘one size fits all’ answer to all commercial pellet waggler scenarios.
This to be fair, covers everything except perhaps long-distance work with heavy floats on open water venues such as Boddington Reservoir.
The progressive action is about as good as it gets in its price bracket, and it seems to have the happy knack of kicking in at just the right moment, giving the extra oomph needed to play big fish. Despite this steely side, the blank is light enough to be held for long spells without discomfort, an immense help when you are catapulting out feed little and often.
BUY NOW for £94.99 from Chapmans Angling
- Specifically designed for distance feeder fishing
- Casting weights up to 160g (4.5oz)
- Ultra high modulus carbon blank
- Extended spigot joint for improved casting power
- Oversized guides enhance casting performance
- Slim fast taper, fast-actioned blank
- Supplied with carbon tips of 2.5oz and 4oz
- Unique detailed weave print applied to all sections
- High-grade cork and EVA composite handle
BUY NOW from £169.99 at Chapmans Angling
It's always struck me as slightly ironic that many of the best distance feeder rods are designed by our Continental counterparts.
That said, modern UK match tactics are starting to influence the build characteristics and specifications of many rods, wherever they are made, and the four Horizon XD Class rods from Matrix are a case in point.
The emphasis across the Channel used to be on propelling a feeder a long way, but now more thought has been given to the cushioning effect that allows the user to reel a big ‘bin lid’ back without pulling a reasonably sized hook out of its mouth. This is reminiscent of our home-grown bream tactics.
These latest three-piece Matrix Horizon XD Feeder rods, in lengths of 13ft, 14ft and 14ft 7ins, and with maximum casting weights of 100g, 130g, 150g and 160g, all feature extended spigots for added casting power, and enlarged guides (including on the quivertips) that shockleaders and heavy lines can pass through unhindered.
The blanks are of the fast taper type, with high weight loading areas and a rapid post-cast tip recovery rate. All are bound to put a few extra yards on your cast.
Four models will be of particular interest to the UK bream angler who frequents large open-water venues such as Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent, or Coventry’s Meadowlands Fishery. They are the 13ft 100g (3.5oz) and 13ft 130g (4.5oz), 14ft 150g (5.2oz) and horizon-busting 14.7ft 160g (5.6oz) rods. For the live test I chose the 13ft 130g rod, which I reckon will be the best seller in the range.
It looks and feels ideal for out-and-out bream and skimmer venues such as Ferry Meadows, near Peterborough.
Rather handily, this was where I came across a certain Mr Steve Ringer who was practising for a forthcoming match.
After a little gentle persuasion, World Feeder Champ Steve agreed to let me use his seatbox, feeders and bait to run the rod through its paces – despite knowing it would likely mean the spoilation of his carefully fed swim.
Instead, selfless Steve decided to have a wander round the venue for an hour rather than watch me cast all over the place and ruin his chances of catching anything else!
So, what are you likely to get in terms of performance and handling from the new Matrix Horizon XD Class? I can tell you straight off the bat that it can be used with any type of feeder, although I found the window type best to achieve distance and accuracy. This is probably more down to the feeder’s sleek design and rear-end casting weight than to how well the rod propelled it.
In truth, the new 13ft 130g Horizon XD will cast anything you care to tie on to your line up to 3oz in weight, and do it with sublime ease. At 4oz, though, the blank’s mid-section lacks just a tad of steel. It still managed to chuck 80 yards-plus without too much effort, and I suspect better casters than I’ll ever be would take it to the next level.
But face it, how many stillwater match anglers are regularly casting 4oz weights those sorts of distances anyway?
Were I looking to use beefier feeders at super-long range, my choice would be the 14ft 150g (5.2oz) rod, which packs a fair bit more oomph.
Back to the rod under test, I can happily report that the 13-footer has a nicely cushioned parabolic through action, with just the right blend of power and subtlety from mid to tip sections.
This means it can be used with lightish hooklengths from 0.12mm upwards and size 16 hooks or bigger, with either mono or braided mainlines from 4lb-10lb. Thanks to its enlarged guides it can accommodate a shockleader too.
The verdict: The four new Matrix Horizon XD Feeder rods are quite specialised, and almost certainly made with an eye to the massive European demand for rods of this type.
They are still likely to find their way into the holdalls of UK match anglers who regularly fish open-water bream venues.
They are easy to cast a fair distance, even in the hands of inexperienced anglers and without heavy weights. A non-aggressive action gives a cushioning effect, so the rods can be used for skimmers and big bream alike without resorting to big hooks.
The latest British-built rod in Tri-Cast’s prestige Trilogy series is light in the hand but heavy on performance.
Weighing just 132g, the Trilogy F1 Commercial Waggler 10ft (a bit of a mouthful, that) has to be one of the most technically advanced short float rods ever made. It’s built from the same carbon cloth currently used in the aerospace and F1 motor racing industries.
A phenomenal line pick-up speed, matched with a thoroughly forgiving, progressive action, allows the angler to strike at lightning-fast bites without fear of snapping off a light hooklength. The cushioning effects of the rod’s top section sees to that.
The pencil-slim, two-piece blank’s equal-length sections are furnished with 10 featherweight single-leg SiC ceramic lined guides. These, whipped on with electric blue and silver-tipped thread, are spaced at carefully calculated decreasing distances towards the tip of the rod to give it a seamless fish-playing curvature under stress.
I was rather hoping to see this in action while live testing the rod on the banks of Norwich’s finest commercial, the F1 and carp-stuffed Willow Lake at Barford Fisheries.
It’s obvious from the moment you slide together the two sections of the new Trilogy F1 that this is a very special, if somewhat specialised, fishing rod. Clearly aimed at the commercial match angler looking to bag up on F1s and stockie carp, the blank feels crisp and almost rigid in the hand. But, as Tri-Cast claims, it does indeed give sufficient cushioning through the top section to alleviate breakages.
This I discovered when attempting to connect with the super-fast bites F1s give, especially up in the water.
I had tackled up with a 4lb reel line and a 0.13mm hooklength terminating in a size 18 hook, baited with a banded 6mm pellet pretty much standard F1 kit.
I started the session on a slim 6g balsa pellet waggler, which the blank handled easily enough, although I ended up using a stubby 4g model once I felt the fish were becoming wary of the longer float.
Maximum casting range with the Trilogy F1 if you want to keep things super-accurate is around 40m. Floats with a casting weight of 8g-10g would be as heavy as I’d fancy loading up with.
As it turned out, the fishery was deluged by a storm of Biblical proportions, with thunder, lightning and torrential rain – and the lake’s sturdy F1s became even more fidgety and difficult to catch.
However, swings and roundabouts – the larger carp, always up for a shallow-fished pellet, went on the rampage and tested the rod to its limits. You can’t help but be impressed with a 10-footer that casts arrow-straight, is easy to hold in one hand while feeding, and can deal with F1s and carp to double figures on reasonably light gear.
On the day I was accompanied by Angling Times features editor Richard Grange, a colossus of a man not noted for his deftness of touch. As he said: “Right, mate, give us a go with that rod,” I had visions of splintered carbon shards in his shovel-like hands and a ‘sorry but’ email to Tri-Cast’s Steve Hopkinson.
But as I sheltered from the monsoon under the rear door of my car I watched in awe as Sid
(for so he is known by his colleagues) slid the net under half-a-dozen great big carp in double-quick time.
The little rod bent almost double, and in keeping with his almost Vicious (see what I did there?) style there was no messing about from the old boy.
As the sixth fish was deposited in the keepnet, a sodden Sid turned to me and said: “Well, that’s a bit special isn’t it?” That seemed to sum up the rod’s performance brilliantly.
Angling Times says:
This super little rod is aimed squarely at the commercial match angler. It’s very well thought out, brilliantly built, and furnished with top-end fittings all round.
But where the Trilogy F1 really scores for me is in its flexibility – you can fish pellets in summer and switch to autumn/winter wag and mag tactics with equal success.
Ideal for use with reel lines from 3lb-6lb and hooklengths down to 0.11mm, this little beauty is bound to be gracing the holdalls of many anglers who appreciate pure class.
SHORT feeder rods are still very much in vogue on commercial fisheries and the 10ft 6ins version of the new Maver Diamond Feeder rods are no exception.
BUY NOW from £179.99 from Chapmans Angling
Super-accurate on the cast, they can be tucked down the side of a platform out of the wind, and are that bit easier all round to handle when elbow room is at a premium.
Provided you’re not faced with a seriously long chuck, rods like this will cast far enough to put you on the fish on most commercials. And, needless to say, they are ideal for Method tactics in the margins where really big fish are about.
Maver’s latest Diamond Feeder 10ft 6ins rod, in two sections, is the perfect length for most commercial feeder and straight lead tactics.
It’s one of four in the range, all boasting high-modulus carbon, cork handle with EVA casting and thumb grips, low-profile lined ceramic guides and the ever-handy folding keeper ring. You also get three graded carbon quivertips.
Unlike a number of other shorter rods that I have tested, Maver’s 10ft 6ins Diamond Feeder has the casting clout to propel a 30g flatbed Method feeder a decent distance with a fair degree of accuracy. I proved this during a live test at Decoy’s mixed-stock Horseshoe Lake… and before any of you familiar with this venue clamour that this lake hasn’t got a long cast on it, I also spent some time casting different weights and distances on the much larger Beastie Lake.
My findings weren’t all that different from Maver’s recommendations, but in my opinion the blank’s limits are being pushed with anything over 60g (2oz) chucked 60 yards.
To be honest, that’s more than enough power and distance for most day-ticket fisheries. A huge plus point is the rod’s non-locking, progressive action with no flat spots.
As you can see from the picture, it tightens up really quickly from a third of the way down the top section, putting you in command when a fish is at the net.
Despite this the rod is not overly stiff, and you’d need to be really clumsy to suffer many hook-pulls. As Dame Shirley Bassey sang, ‘Diamonds are forever’…and sure enough, this rod’s a keeper!
The delightful jet black Diamond Feeder gets a huge thumbs-up from me. It’s everything you could wish for. It’ll cast a fair distance when you need to, it’s super-accurate at short range, and it can be used with a wide choice of weights for tactical flexibility. At just 181g it’s very light, and its progressive action combines controlled pulling power with enough softness to make it suitable for reel lines from 4lb to 8lb, with hooklengths down to 0.12mm.
To the best of my knowledge these new Shakespeare Cypry rods are the first from Shakespeare to be aimed specifically at carp anglers. Priced to appeal to the novice, junior or ‘just about managing’ carp fan, the line-up of 10 rods includes three-piece and telescopic models – popular on the Continent, less so over here.
BUY NOW from £32.99 at Amazon.co.uk
It’s the three 12ft two-piece rods with test curves of 2.5lb, 2.75lb and 3lb, as well as the beefier 13ft 3.5lb and 10ft 3lb rods (for work at close quarters) that will be of most interest to UK carpers.
The full carbon, two-piece blanks all feature an abbreviated handle with EVA thumb and casting grips, reliable screw-down reel seat, and a set of six hard-wearing ceramic-lined guides.
As I have said many times before, I hate using a carp rod that feels like a reincarnated telegraph pole. One of the best aspects of carp fishing is feeling the fight of the fish. If you stifle that fun by using a poker-stiff rod, you take away much of the motivation for going carping in the first place!
Now, I know there’s a time and a place for beefy carp rods. If you need to chuck a heavy lead a very long way you need something with the power to do the job.
But frankly, most carp anglers don’t demand such extreme performance. Many of them fish relatively small lakes where a 100-yard cast would land the rig in the trees on the far bank, in someone else’s swim, or even in a completely different pool.
Consider this too – an increasing number of pleasure anglers use a carp rod as a second ‘sleeper’ set-up, sitting it on a bite alarm beside them while they fish a pole or feeder. The aim is to produce one or two bonus big fish during the day, and the chances of that happening are greatly improved if the rod in question can chuck a baited hook a manageable distance where loosefeed can be accurately placed in the same area.
So, when putting Shakespeare’s budget-priced Cypry 12ft 3lb test curve carp rod through its paces, I knew I’d taken hold of a bit of kit that should prove hugely popular with a large number of anglers.
For the great majority of venues, this rod will cover every eventuality. Its workmanlike action will handle reel lines from 10lb to 15lb, and cast large Method feeders and solid PVA bags. In the hand it’s reasonably light and comfy, and it gets a big tick for its surprisingly responsive tip, which generates considerable casting clout when needed.
Plenty of transmission makes it a joy to play fish on – you can really feel every twist and turn of a hooked carp. The progressive action firms up quickly around the mid-section, providing enough backbone to steer fish away from snags and safely into your net.
During the live test at the quite superb day-ticket Willowbrook carp lake in Northamptonshire I used a variety of tactics to land fish approaching 20lb – small PVA bags, Method feeders and even surface controllers were well within the rod’s capabilities.
I got to thinking that it wasn’t all that long ago when I’d have expected a rod with this one’s build quality and all-round performance to set me back at least £100. At less than a third of that, the Cypry is an out-and-out steal.
Shakespeare’s Cypry range is ideal for anyone wanting to get into this addictive branch of fishing. It offers the would-be Terry Hearns lots of tactical scope, with enough power to handle Method feeders and solid bags.
A progressive action enables L-plate carpers to hit distant marks if and when required, but at the same time they needn’t worry that fish will break the line or pull the hook out at the net.
The Full Range
Black Arrow 800 Feeder
11ft medium – £179.99
12ft medium – £189.99
13ft medium – £199.99
13ft medium/heavy – £209.99
14ft heavy – £229.99
14ft super heavy – £249.99
Black Arrow 500 Feeder
9ft medium – £129.99
10ft medium – £139.99
11ft medium – £149.99
12ft medium – £159.99
13ft medium – £169.99
Black Arrow 300 Feeder
9ft medium – £59.99
10ft medium – £69.99
11ft medium – £79.99
12ft medium – £89.99
Feeder fishing has seen a massive upsurge in popularity, and nowadays the well-prepared match angler has a rod in his holdall that suits every eventuality.
Much of the fervour associated with all things feeder fishing is down to our friends from the Netherlands, who have made the tactic an art form.
Little wonder, then, that one of the largest Continental tackle and bait companies, Sensas, has brought out what looks to be the most comprehensive range of feeder rods yet under the name Black Arrow.
There are 15 rods in all, in three price bands – the 800, 500 and 300 series. The rods are built from Nano-Flex carbon and all blanks are furnished with quality ceramic-lined guides and supplied with three push-in quivertips, graded to suit the various test curves.
Sensas has achieved the perfect combination of power for casting with softness at the fish-playing stage, and running the gamut of slender 9ft light feeder models through to hefty 14ft super rods for long-range chucks on big lakes and rivers, there’s something for everyone.
- Casting weight: 15g-80g
- Line rating: 4lb - 8lb
- Length: 11ft (two equal sections)
- Guides: Low profile, ceramic-lined
- Handle: Cork hand & EVA
- Action: Powerful but progressive
Preston Innovations says its new Monster Commercial Carp rods are purpose-built to cope with the ever-increasing size of carp on many modern match waters.
BUY NOW for £94.99 at Amazon.co.uk
Big guns Des Shipp and Tommy Pickering have had an input into the design of all four, which don’t sacrifice any of their progressive fish-playing action despite being strong as Shire horses on steroids.
All rods are sensibly priced at under £100. There are 10ft and 11ft (on test) Carp Feeder models that come with graded push-in carbon quivertips of 1oz, 1.5oz and 2oz.
There’s also a dedicated 12ft Method Feeder rod, as well as what looks and feels to be a very handsome 11ft Pellet Waggler.
All four boast super-slim butt sections, cork and EVA thumb grip handles, secure screw-down reel fittings and quality low-profile ceramic-lined guides.
A useful keeper ring adds a nice finishing touch. Equal length two-piece blanks in all cases are easy to transport to your peg ready made-up.
The 11ft Carp Feeder, my Monster rod of choice for live test duty, is a tactically flexible feeder and straight lead tool. With an 80g (2.8oz) maximum casting weight, and rated to lines between 4lb and 8lb, it’s perfect for commercial fisheries where the carp have not signed up for Weight Watchers.
To prove its mettle, I needed to get the rod on to a water where bites come readily to a variety
of tactics, and few fit the bill better than the picture postcard day-ticket Lakeside Fishery near Towcester, Northants.
A swim opposite a small island gave me the option of a cast toward either corner or a long chuck out into open water to test the rod’s casting potential.
Setting up with Preston’s latest Inter-change feeder system allowed me to swap between different weights of Method and Banjo feeders, and with a straight lead line in the margins I pretty much had most of the tactics you would use with this rod covered.
Starting live test proceedings with a modest 15g flatbed Method cast tight to the island margin, I can report that at distances of up to 25 yards it casts sniper-straight, and that once you have clipped up, consistently hitting the target at anything up to 50 yards shouldn’t prove a problem.
This proved to be the case with feeders up to about 48g, after which the rod began to show its limitations. However, towards the end of the session I was still chucking a 30g Banjo 65-plus yards which, on most commercials, is like hitting a six out of the ground at Trent Bridge!
What the Monster does have going for it is a superb action, which has obviously come in for some serious scrutiny and field testing from the Preston Innovations team. Sweet as nut, and more fun than a day at the fair, it’s little short of commercial carp heaven.
It bends exactly how, when and where it should, with enough backbone to heave a reluctant lump over the net when you’re fed up with chasing it around the peg.
The latest Monster Commercial rods from Preston Innovations look, feel and fish just right. They are nailed on to become among the most popular commercial rod ranges on the market this summer, and are available at a price that won’t make anglers jump out of their skin.
Drennan Specialist Tench and Bream Rods Mk2. The pursuit of tench is the ultimate angling idyll. Imagine an early morning walk to the lake through dew-heavy meadows painted with golden shafts of sunlight.
Your every step is softly placed, lest the grass underfoot snaps with thunderous disapproval.
The dawn chorus quietens for a moment, then strikes up again – if the birds don’t know you’re here, no-one does.
The lake’s lily beds, bedecked with white and red flowers, are in stark contrast to the peat-stained water. Their stems twitch and bob, revealing tell-tale signs of fish movement below...
Romantic as such images may be, the fact is that modern-day tench fishing (especially for specimen-sized fish) is more than likely to be on a large open-water gravel pit. Such a place was where lifelong tench angler Peter Drennan developed so many of the tackle items and accessories that we all take for granted today.
Yes, the enigma of tench fishing has been the mother of tackle invention and innovation for many years.
All this brings me nicely to these two new MkII Specialist Tench and Bream rods from the thoroughbred Drennan stable. The original models were built for the discerning big-fish angler way back in 2009. These new 12ft, two-piece versions come with 1.75lb and 2lb test curves, and are easy to carry ready made-up.
They boast high modulus carbon build, quality SiC guides, original Fuji DPS reel seats (which can be used with all but the very largest reels) and a stylish anti-flash matt green paint finish.
But other than sharing furnishings and fittings, these two rods are as different as Chavs from chaffinches, as I soon found when live testing them on a free-to-fish public gravel pit in the middle of a Peterborough housing estate.
On a wild, windy and cold May afternoon, the Method feeder was my only option. I had originally harboured notions of using the lighter of the two rods with a big sliding float, just as I fished Gloucestershire’s tench-prolific South Cerney pits back in the day.
However, the hoolie blowing straight down the lake put paid to that trip down memory lane.
So, with the rods set on alarms, it was time to start. My set-ups involved 2oz and 3oz E-S-P flatbed feeders, both with fake corn hookbaits. The lighter 1¾lb model coped well enough with 2oz of casting weight, but that’s pretty much the limit of its chucking abilities, in my opinion.
It’s quite soft-actioned for its test curve, and the guide spacings lend themselves better to lighter feeder and float set-ups than to hurling feeders to the horizon.
It does, though, have a delightful lightness, tactile quality and response, making it ideal for specimen tench or bream, and perfect for the old-school tench angler looking for a super reliable all-round rod.
The 2lb Specialist Distance Tench and Bream model is an altogether more savage beast. Designed for long-range casting, it copes easily with 3oz of lead, and has enough stiffness in its butt section and a high enough weight loading point to blast out a feeder a very long way.
Furnished with larger and fewer SiC guides, this is a very modern tench rod for tackling the largest gravel pits. Both models have similar progressive fish-playing actions although, as you might expect, the Distance rod doesn’t have the same softness or tactile feel. However, having said that the rod is certainly going to provide an altogether much better fish-catching experience for the avid specimen tench and bream angler than they would get from using a distance-casting carp rod.
Angling Times says:
Drennan has clearly thought long and hard about both these rods. The fact that they are basically dressed the same as the originals says much about the popularity of the concept. However, these are specialist rods aimed at the modern specimen angler.
Take your pick between an old school progressive action, with lots of feel and an all-round remit, or a superbly well-built distance casting rod capable of hitting long ranges using heavy leads, and therefore ideal for large expanses of open or weedy water – especially when targeting really big tench.
Frenzee's latest 10ft 6ins Pro FXT Match+ rod, at £78.50, is easily one of the best I’ve used in this modest price bracket.
The two-piece carbon composite blank isn’t made for casting heavy pellet or splasher wagglers to the horizon on big open waters, but it chucks their smaller relatives out very proficiently. What’s more, it’s lightweight and comfy in the hand, something hugely important in a pellet waggler rod. Otherwise, constant casting, along with regular feeding via a catapult, can quickly become an irksome chore rather than the fun pursuit it should be.
The need to feed while holding the rod is a vital element of pellet waggler fishing, and proved a very necessary skill when I was live testing the Frenzee rod on Decoy’s fish-packed Beastie Lake. At 5ft-6ft deep, Beastie is an ideal pellet waggler venue. Sadly, though, it’s often plagued by an annoying side wind sweeping down the lake, making presentation a bit of a mare.
Once the float hits the water, it’s almost instantly dragged out of position by the wind – and carp, no matter how hungry or daft they may be, aren’t going to chase sideways-moving pellets with a life of their own. I started the day by fishing a 6g straight crystal waggler at mid-depth (around 3ft) with a hair-rigged 6mm banded pellet.
The wind was behaving true to type, and although I did foul-hook a few fish which shot off like finned cannonballs, every one of them parted company with me. They did, though, make me appreciate how much power this rod has in reserve, and that’s despite its pleasing through action – you can feel the blank bending all the way through to the handle.
With a few fish swirling on the feed pellets as soon as they hit the water, a change to a shorter, dumpier float, and a reduction in depth to just 12ins, was called for. I could only get bites on the drop, which meant casting and feeding every 15 seconds. Not only did the rod never leave my hands, but I needed lightning-fast strike reactions to zip line from the surface in the blink of an eye. Only then did I connect with the bites.
Neither constraint proved much of a problem for the FXT Match+, which was indeed a comfy rod to hold and quick to pick up line on the strike. But it’s not much use having the right rod if your reel’s not up to the job. This is where Frenzee’s new FMR MK2 3000 comes in. Used with its single handle option, it’s the perfect pellet waggler partner for the FXT.
Its large but lightweight Airlight bail-arm flicked open and closed every cast, and the clutch was soon fizzing as Beastie Lake’s strain of lean, fit carp made spirited runs and fought like fish three times their size. The reel’s double handle is more of an advantage when feeder fishing, helping to balance the reel when setting the quivertip.
This is an ideal pellet waggler rod for most commercial carp fisheries. Its through action is capable of safely handling the largest fish without worrying about hook-pulls or snapped lines. It will also cast wagglers up to 15g without a problem, and can be matched with hooklengths as fine as 0.14mm. All in all, for the price it’s one of the nicest pellet waggler rods currently out there.
- Weight: 325g
- Line Rating: 8lb - 15lb
- Eight ceramic line guides
- Full cork handles
- Heavy parabolic action
- Matt black finish
Now here’s something a little bit different from Korum, a new range of Carp Float rods in 12ft and 13ft lengths.
With 1.5lb and 1.75lb test curves, what’s so unusual about that, you may ask? Well, they are intended to put the fun and pleasure back into carp fishing, by enabling anglers to use stealthy float tactics rather than today’s more usual straight lead or Method feeder approaches.
The K-Flex carbon blanks have a powerful parabolic action that kicks in steadily as pressure is applied, and both rods will handle big carp with aplomb. Other key features include matt black livery, full cork handles, and rugged nylon reel seats with black metal hoods. You also get eight light, double-legged ceramic-lined guides.
The downside is that such a powerful progressive action reduces casting capabilities a tad, so if you’re harbouring notions of using one to plonk a 4AA waggler 30 yards out, forget it. They will indeed reach such distances, and more besides, but only when partnered with heavier floats from 20g upwards.
That’s not a negative in my book, as I reckon their longer lengths and superb action make these ideal stalking rods – the extra reach can be used to delicately present a baited hook close to marginal reeds or snags.
I can already hear mutterings that most stalking rods are short 7ft to 9ft affairs for dropping leads and PVA bags into holes in weed. But find a reed-fringed lake, get your chest waders on and put a few free offerings into likely looking spots. Chances are you’ll find a few fish feeding, and now you can silently drop a bait right on top of their noses, with instant and explosive results.
The reed-fringed waters of Willowbrook Lake in Northants play host to plenty of decent-sized fish that like to roam around the margins looking for spilled feed. So on a quiet Monday morning, armed with little more than a landing net and a boxful of corn, I wandered around the fishery with the 13ft Korum Carp Float rod.
Twitching lily stems revealed something moving down below, so I scattered a few grains of corn over the area and lowered in a small straight waggler shotted with three No8s spread down the line. Instantly my double corn hookbait was snaffled, and in a torrent of spray and boils the fish bolted off, leaving a wake worthy of any torpedo.
This is the moment when any carp rod worth its salt steps up to the mark. Tightening down on the reel’s clutch and holding the rod on the horizontal plane, I applied side strain that slowly but surely brought the fish to a halt.
The rod’s heavy parabolic action had more than done its job in tiring the carp, yet at the net it had enough flexibility in the tip to absorb my quarry’s last-minute lunges without risk of a hook-pull or a parting of the line.
Price | 13ft £44.99 | 12ft £42.99 |
Angling Times verdict
What a great rod from Korum this is! It’s loads of fun to use, with exactly the right blend of fish-playing power and finesse, and perfect for margin fishing when really big fish are on the cards. Its two-piece build means it can be easily carried to the bank ready made up, and is therefore ideal for a short evening stalking session with a float in the margins.
Toreon Nano Composite construction
2K-1K high modulus woven carbonfibre blank
Crisp progressive action
Carbon Armour blank finish
Fuji DPS-18 reel seat
Full Japanese shrink wrap handle
The Prodigy Apex is the latest addition to Greys’ best-selling Prodigy range of rods, which over the years have gained a well-earned reputation for incredible performance at an affordable price.
The Apex rods start at £169.99 RRP for the 10ft 3lb model, going up to £200 for the 12ft and 13ft 3.5lb rods. These prices put the rods into the mid-range bracket where you expect that little bit extra for your money as opposed to entry-level rods in the £50-£100 price range.
Greys had sent the 12ft 3.25lb model for us to take out and nowadays this test curve would be classed as a good all-rounder. If you’re only planning on investing in one set of carp rods these will cover most jobs. Although they may be a little overgunned for fishing close in, they’ll still do the job, but they can easily chuck a large lead or PVA bag a decent distance that a rod with a lighter test curve would struggle to match.
We made the short journey to Northamptonshire’s Willowbrook Lake and straight away found a few carp making the most of the early spring sunshine in a shallow bay at the top of the lake. A clump of reeds knocking no more than a couple of rodlengths to the right of the swim revealed fish location after throwing in a handful of corn and broken boilies a rig was flicked towards the spot and the rod placed on the ground.
A few minutes later, the tip hooped round and I was bent into a carp. The rod’s smooth, progressive action easily cushioned the powerful lunges of the fish as it did its best to find sanctuary in the reeds. Ultimately the carp was no match for the power and control of the rod and it was soon sat in the net. The Prodigy Apex has benefitted from the use of Toreon Nano composite material technology. This not only makes the blank incredibly slim and lightweight but also gives it increased strength and finesse. The rod action has been specifically designed to get the best out of modern, powerful, overhead casting styles and the Toreon technology promotes a super-fast tip recovery speed. This gives the rod a crisp and responsive feel normally associated with ultra-high end carp rods.
The sublime woven carbon finish is 2K on the butt and 1K on the tip and features a durable Carbon Armour blank finish. Other features include a Fuji DPS-18 reel seat, stealth black anodised collars, a slim, shrink-wrapped handle and balanced stainless butt cap. If you’re looking at making the step up from entry-level blanks, then the Prodigy Apex rods are worth serious consideration.
Not only do they perform great but aesthetically they look the part too. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had a price tag of over £200, so for £179.99 they are excellent value. Having used the 3.25lb model I can confirm that it is a real jack of all trades and will handle everything from catching carp close in beneath overhanging trees, to blasting out rigs to 100 metres.
Slim carbon blank
Enlarged Zirconium guides
Ergonomically-designed reel seat
Rubber butt cap
Satin matt finish
Maximum mainline rating - 12lb
Recommended maximum casting weight - 5oz
Mono and braid-friendly guides
Shakespeare Agility Continental Feeder rod. This range of continental feeder rods bearing the famous Shakespeare mark is aimed squarely at fans of big, open-water venue fishing.
Designed and constructed to cope with the heaviest of feeders, the fastest of flows and the longest of casts, the rods come in 12ft, 13ft and 14ft lengths and are well-suited to the pursuit of big bream from expansive, deep venues. So why would these rods be of any interest at all to the UK match angler, I hear you ask?
Well I’ll tell you. It was brought to my attention that the 14ft Agility Continental in particular has furtively become one of the most sought-after long-chuck big feeder rods on the market. And not just for targeting stillwater bream either; it’s also rumoured to be very much ‘at home’ on big rivers such as the Severn and Trent. A quick call to Shakespeare revealed my source’s information to be well-founded; the company are currently completely out of stock of the 14ft model, due to an apparent surge in interest. However, the Alnwick-based firm did have the other two lengths in stock, and could get one sent out for live testing purpose immediately.
Although I would have liked to get my mitts on the 14ft model, I wasn’t overly disappointed at it not being available, as I wouldn’t be casting huge distances into really deep water, or using ultra-long hooklengths. A 14ft feeder rod is a highly-specialised tool, and on the rare occasion I have used them - which has been mainly in Holland - they have always felt a little bit alien, so I was more than happy with the 13ft model which I was sure would prove just as good as the slightly longer version.
Two days later the rod dropped on to my desk, and I couldn’t wait to get a look at it. A quick in-office inspection revealed a pleasing matt satin-finished three-piece high-modulus carbon blank. It has been designed with an ‘old-school’ fast-tapering casting action, with more than enough poke through its middle and butt sections to make distance casting a doddle.
Plus, it’s also got a high weight loading point, which kicks in around halfway down the carrier section, meaning it shouldn’t feel wobbly or unbalanced when a heavy feeder is attached to it. Other key features included three carbon push-in quivertips and a superb set of enlarged-diameter Zirconium Oxide guides, ideal for use with all braided and mono mainlines, and certainly wide enough to allow the safe snag-free passage of shockleader knots.
With the river closed season now upon us, I was slightly limited with regards to venue choice, especially as the bream stocks in most of the large acreage open-water venues such as Ferry Meadows are still only just waking up from their winter slumber. However, I knew that the Northants day-ticket lake Rysons was normally good for a few early spring slabs, and as it’s a fair chuck out to the middle of the lake where the fish normally reside, it would prove a fair casting test for the rod.
My set-up involved using a 10lb fluorocarbon shockleader, tied to a 0.10mm braided mainline, with a 40g distance cage feeder at the business end of things. The first task was to lay the table, so I made a dozen quick casts to the lake centre using a big cage feeder loaded with pellets, groundbait and dead red maggots. The blank hardly flexed during the loosefeeding process, with the mainline hitting the clip easily on every cast and the shockleader fairly sizzling through the rod’s enlarged guides. The blank’s casting action is best described as clean and crisp, but if I were to be hyper-critical I’d say it’s maybe a little on the heavy side. However, with minimal recoil, I knew it would be no bother at all to achieve extreme casting ranges.
An hour later the rod’s tip trembled, followed by the unmistakable steady pull-round as a big slab picked up the treble maggot hookbait. Two minutes and two big head shakes later we parted company when the hook pulled out. Unfortunately, this scenario unfolded three more times before a change to a larger hook and a longer hooklength remedied the problem. Quite simply, the blank’s power can be a little overwhelming when used with smaller hooks, but when coupled with wide gape hooks from a size 14 and upwards, the problem pales into the background.
To summarise, the rod has superb distance-casting credentials and is available at a snip of the price of most distance feeder models. As well as being an awesome tool for tackling large stillwaters at home and abroad, it would make an excellent rod for targeting all fish species on our larger domestic rivers.
This 13ft Agility Continental has power with a capital P to burn. Originally designed for the European feeder angler, the rod is ideal for big open-water UK venues, and is also sure to find favour with many river anglers, especially where hefty feeders up to 5oz and strong lines up to 12lb are needed. Price wise, for a long-range heavy feeder rod, it’s the best by some margin of those currently available on the market.
Tips: 1oz, 2oz and 3oz
Casting weight: 60g
Handle: Full cork
Middy produces impressive commercial fishery rods these days, with everything from close-quarter snake lake models to powerful horizon-hitting beasts. And what’s more, there’s something to suit every depth of pocket.
Close to the pinnacle of Middy’s comprehensive feeder rod range sits the latest new and improved 11ft Nano-Core XK55-2 World Pro Feeder. Don’t be deterred by the RRP because it can be found at a lower price around £159.99 if you shop around. That said, it’s still a lot to lay out by anyone’s standards, so what exactly would you be buying? Well, for starters you get an ultra-slim (it’s just over 3cm circumference at the butt section), ridiculously light, two-sectioned carbon fibre blank, and the result of the very latest Nano-Core technology. This translates into a rod with lightning-fast reflexes, immense strength and flexibility.
The understated non-flash matt-black coloured blank has undergone a unique high-pressure vacuum curing process that forces out any tiny air bubbles, ensuring a consistent performance and a flawless finish. Other luxury touches include three push-in carbon quivertips rated at 1oz, 2oz and 3oz, plus eight ceramic-lined double and single SiC guides. An ultra-thin full cork handle furnished with a screw-down reel seat completes the classy designer furnishings.
Middy claims the rod will cast bombs and feeders up to 60g using mainlines up to 10lb and hooklengths up to 8lb – pretty much standard manufacturer-speak for a commercial feeder rod of this quality. But in my humble opinion, top-end models should always have that bit extra, the ‘wow’ factor if you like. You’re already paying for the classy furnishings, fittings and carbon technology, but without that noticeable edge to the rod’s performance all that counts for nowt – and that applies to all tackle brands.
And so to the live test, to see if the improved spec and build XK55-2 did indeed have the ‘wow’ factor. I headed to a new day- ticket venue for me, Townsend Lakes, near Wisbech, deep in the Cambridgeshire fens. The finned residents of the venue’s Woodpecker Pool are said to come in all sizes, responding well to most open-water straight lead and feeder tactics.
Assembling the rod, you cannot help but be impressed by its pencil-slimness and lightness in the hand – in fact, I found the full cork handle a tad too skinny for my own assortment of butt rests, and would suggest that any prospective buyer should look for a small U-shaped abbreviated rear rest of the sort favoured by carp anglers.
The rod’s two sections are of equal length when a quivertip is fitted and, as the XK55-2 comes with its own carry bag, it can be carried made-up saving time on the bank. I wasn’t wholly convinced by its suggested 60g maximum casting weight. For me, the top end of the quivertip carrier section has a little too much play for that much casting weight, and while there is no denying its impressive post-cast tip recovery speed, this rod is clearly not of the ‘give it a whack’ breed. If you miscast and take out the top section it’s likely to have been a very expensive non-cast.
And there end my criticisms. The fact is, the performance of this new and improved version of the Nano-Core X55-2 11ft World Pro Feeder will have you purring with satisfaction. It has a wondrous amount of torque and feel, with a handling aptitude right up there with the very best.
The immaculate high modulus carbon blank has a phenomenal crispness and line pick-up speed, which is blended with a super-responsive continuous (non-locking) parabolic action. This steadily strengthens and tightens the more you pull, enabling you to subdue any size or species of fish in double quick time without any hook-pulls or snapped lines. And it’s this superb action where the rod’s ‘wow’ factor I was looking for kicks-in. Think of it as a bit like stepping out of your old family saloon and into a works rally car, but once you adapt to the change its all systems go – only you won’t have to strap yourself in!
A genuine high-performance rod for the commercial fishery connoisseur, this top-end model will comfortably handle most weights of flatbed feeders and straight leads up to 40g (1.5oz). Its flexibility and superb parabolic action make it equally at home with a maggot or small cage feeder with light lines and small hooks for F1s, skimmers and silvers, and targeting bigger winter carp with bread
Pleasure and big-fish brand Korum has launched a range of three-piece feeder rods that are sure to be a huge hit. The eight-strong collection features models ranging from 11ft to 13ft, and covers all short, medium or long-casting ranges. The rods are perfect for all types of feeder fishing on both rivers and stillwaters and have maximum casting weights running from 45g to 180g.
11ft Feeder 45g
Ideal for lakes where feeders need to be cast accurately at short or medium distances. A versatile rod with a line rating of 4lb-8lb, it is supplied with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips: orange (light), yellow (medium) and red (heavy).
12ft Feeder 45g
Described by Korum as a ‘fantastic all-rounder’ with plenty of backbone, it has
a 4lb-8lb line rating, and comes with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips (light, medium and heavy).
12ft Feeder 60g
A rod with more power for casting larger feeders and making longer casts. It has
a 6lb-8lb line rating and comes with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips (light, medium and heavy).
12ft Feeder 90g
This rod is for large feeders and long casts, but it retains enough tip sensitivity for silverfish work. Ideal for medium-paced rivers, it has a 6lb-10lb line rating and comes with a trio of 3.3mm colour-coded light, medium and heavy quivertips.
12ft Feeder 120g
The most powerful 12ft model in the series. A good option for fast water, but with a sensitive tip action that allows plenty of options. It has a line rating of 6lb-8lb and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded quivertips.
13ft Feeder 120g
As with the two other 13ft models in the range, this rod has a slightly more powerful tip for improved casting distance and accuracy. It has a line rating of 6lb-10lb, and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded quivertips.
13ft Feeder 150g
More power and a faster casting action make this rod ideal for when long casts and heavy feeders are the order of the day. Great for large, open stillwaters and fast-paced rivers. Carries a line rating of 6lb- 10lb and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded (light, medium and heavy) quivertips.
13ft Feeder 180g
With a casting weight of 180g, this powerful rod will comfortably launch feeders beyond 100m. Boasting large-diameter guides, it can also be safely used with shockleaders. It has a line rating of 6lb-10lb, and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded (light, medium and heavy) quivertips.
Greys has an impressive track record for iconic fishing rods – names such as Prodigy, Platinum and Air Curve are all instantly recognisable to big-fish anglers who demand the best.
So when news broke of a new rod range aimed at the serious coarse angler I just had to get my hands on a couple. The full Toreon Tactical family features four quivertip rods at 10ft 6ins, 11ft 10ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft.All come with five graded carbon push-in quivertips. There are also five float rods in lengths of 10ft 6ins, 11ft 6ins, 12ft 8ins, 13ft and 15ft. Combine these with the quivertip rods and you have a rod arsenal able to tackle every imaginable venue, from tiny ponds to raging rivers.
Built from high modulus, lightweight Toreon nano-carbon, all rods are amazingly strong and responsive, and furnished throughout with quality lightweight gunsmoke SiC guides. Detachable cork butt grips allow for compact storage and variable handle lengths. These will be a blessing on the longer rods, giving more casting clout to those who like to whack it out a bit. The two rods on test, an 11ft 10ins quiver and an 11ft 6ins float model, should between them cover most ‘middle of the road’ situations and deal with everything from big commercial carp to shy-biting silvers. This in itself is quite unusual in an era when most modern coarse rods are built to do a specific job.
I would suggest, though, that if (after reading this review) you are interested in owning a Greys Toreon Tactical rod, you take a closer look at the full range before making your choice with so many rod lengths and recommended line strengths there will be something perfect for every fishery you may visit during the course of a season. Bearing that in mind, I took the test rods to a mixed fishery, the superbly well attended and blissfully peaceful day-ticket Wold Farm in Northamptonshire (www.woldfarmfisheries.co.uk). When the float dips or the tip goes round on Wood Lake you can never be too sure what’s having a nibble on the other end – it’s a kind of aquatic Bingo.
Starting on a 3AAA insert peacock waggler with a lightish 0.11mm hooklength and size 18 hook baited with double maggot, the 11ft 6ins two-sectioned rod soon put a few roach and half-decent skimmers into the netThe blank is crisp and responsive, with the backbone to cast big floats (including pellet wagglers up to 15g) without a hitch. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch anything hefty enough to test its anti-locking action, but for silvers alone it’s just about light enough to put a bend in the tip. The 11ft 10ins Toreon Tactical quiver rod was tested rather better as a run of pastie-sized carp took a liking to my bread disc hookbaits. The feisty little fellows showed plenty of spirit, but the blank’s flat spot-free action shrugged off their struggles and they were soon peering through the mesh of my keepnet.
It’s more than capable of handling medium-sized Method feeders, but although Greys rates its maximum casting weight at 185g (6oz-plus) that’s a tad optimistic in my opinion. I particularly liked the five blaze-coloured carbon quivertips which add to the rod’s versatility and help prove its worth as an all-rounder.
If you’re a journeyman coarse angler looking for a ‘one rod does it all’ bank side companion, then one – or perhaps two – from the new Toreon Tactical range are more than likely to be sliding into your rod holdall soon. Quality and performance are virtually guaranteed from Greys, one of the UK’s longest-surviving tackle companies with a fine history of producing hard-wearing, long-lasting and thoroughly satisfying fishing rods.
£99.99 - £129.99
These tiny wands are called Ticklers – did Ken Dodd invent them so his Diddy Men could go fishing?
Well, oddly enough, no. These pint-sized single-sectioned Carp and F1 models are the latest additions to Browning’s popular Commercial King range. There’s nothing new about short or indeed single-sectioned rods, and few would argue against their having a place in the modern commercial match angler’s rod holdall. That is just where you can tuck your Tickler after a match, and very easily at that.
Simply remove the quivertip, place the hook into its retainer and reel up any slack line. Then it’s just a matter of folding the reel handle flat before sliding the rod into its slim, protective tube. There are no bands, sleeves or broken tips to worry about – the rod can be taken down and put up again quite literally in seconds.
For live test purposes I carried both versions to my peg at Monkhall Fisheries in Shropshire, ready made-up inside a standard rod bag containing five tubes plus a few mini pole extensions (and if you’re wondering about the blue colour of the water, it’s from a fish-safe dye used to keep weed growth to a minimum). Just to have them so close to hand and ready to use without the need to transport yet another rod holdall to the peg further endeared these rods of restricted growth to me. Yes, obviously they have their limitations, but for ease of transportation and convenience they tick my box.
The pair consists of a surprisingly substantial Carp Tickler model with a 50g (1.7oz) maximum casting weight, suitable for reel lines up to 8lb, and the lighter F1 rod with a casting weight of 35g (1.5oz) for reel lines up to 6lb breaking strain. The Carp Tickler has enough clout in its progressive fish-playing action to cope with specimens of 10lb-plus, while its lighter F1 counterpart shares the action while remaining just about light enough to handle small hooks and fragile hooklengths without risking hook-pulls or breakages.
During the live test, I fished for carp in deep water with the Carp Tickler set up with a 0.75oz straight lead and hair-rigged bread discs. I rigged the F1 rod with a 20g Drennan Carp feeder, size 18 hook and double maggot for fishing in shallower water up against an island.
During the session the wind got up from nowhere and, within seconds, wickedly cold snow flurries were driving across the lake. It really was ‘batten down the hatches’ stuff, but my fishing didn’t suffer at all, as the shortness of the rods had allowed me to tuck the rod-tips right into the bank. I hit every bite, and even when I had the brolly up I could still see the quivertips. As a bonus, I found I could net fish without having to negotiate the canopy of my brolly.
Well, I must admit to being completely sold on these new Browning Ticklers. I really liked the concept – packing away and setting up rods has never been easier or more lacking in fuss and drama. Being able to stick them inside my pole holdall was another big plus point. I found the Carp Tickler a little on the heavy side, and although I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for summer Method feeder margin work I would probably furnish myself with a pair of the F1 Ticklers for winter commercial fishing, preferring their softer cushioning action.
Daiwa has reintroduced its famous Powermesh rods which, back in the day, had a reputation among carp anglers for being cutting edge.
The latest seven-strong collection includes a dedicated 2.75lb test curve barbel rod for float and feeder use. The float rods come in 13ft, 14ft and 15ft lengths and are well suited to heavy waggler and deep-water slider work using reel lines from 3lb-10lb. A crisp action makes them ideal for long-trotting with Avons and big stick floats on fast-flowing rivers for chub and barbel.
The three feeder models (11ft 6ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft 6ins) all come with quivertips of 1.5oz, 2oz and 3oz test curves, and would seem to be as much at home with open-end feeders for summer tench as they would be tempting winter river chub using maggot and bread feeders.
With casting weights of up to 50g, 70g and 90g, respectively, each rod is built to take lots of stick, reflected in the use of high-grade carbon cloth with a 1k carbon weave along the butt sections for added resilience.
As you’d expect from Daiwa, the classy non-flash matt-black blanks are of the finest quality, with full cork handles, original Fuji DPS reel seats, stainless steel guides with lightweight LS ceramic rings, and hard-wearing aluminium butt caps. All these work together to give the rods a pleasing custom-built aesthetic look.
£107.99 to £125.99
Light lure fishing has captured the imagination of UK anglers to an amazing degree in the past two years.
This has seen an influx of tackle rarely spotted in British tackle shops as most kit designed to fish this style had been the preserve of European, American and Japanese anglers. One such manufacturer of fine lure fishing tackle is Quantum. Offering a huge range of different rods to cover all styles of lure fishing, it was towards the lighter end that I looked to test.
The rod, a one-piece Quantum PT Accurist Spin is available in five different weights and lengths – from the shortest 1.98m (rated at a casting weight of 7g -21g) to the longest, two-piece 2.55m (CW 12g -74g) model. The 2.03m (CW 3g-12g) model I tested is a one-piece blank. This makes the rod more responsive when fishing lighter jig heads and hard baits, as there is no joining spigot to reduce the ‘telegraphing’ of the ‘working’ lure through the blank and into the angler’s hand. This is further enhanced by its new and improved build using lightweight HSX54 graphite construction.
The handle is made from EVA and features ergonomic grips on both the reel handle and butt section. Weighing only 95g (just over 3oz) it is perfect for using all day without fatigue. All lure rods are rated between Very Fast through to Soft. This rating indicates the stiffness of the blank and how quickly it will recover after casting. Basically, the faster the rod, the less the tip shakes and wobbles after casting!
Very fast rods are inclined to feel a bit like ‘broom handles’ while soft rods are great for playing small fish, but lack the butt power for casting distances. I found the Quantum PT Accurist Spin to be Fast, and combined with the light Casting Weight rating of 3g-12g, makes this rod a bit of an all-rounder for fishing light lures.
To put the rod through its paces and to test its versatility, I decided to both drop shot on my local river Nene, before going to the other extreme, vertical jig fishing into depth of 70ft on the mighty Rutland Water, the biggest man-made lake in Europe. For drop shotting, the river was not in the greatest of trim, quite dirty and carrying an extra 2ft on its normal levels. This worked in my favour in some ways as I needed to use a drop shot weight of 12g to hold station in and around the river’s various features.
With a handful of small perch and one getting on for a pound, the rod coped admirably with the prevailing conditions. For part two, it was on to a boat on a bitterly cold Rutland Water. Faced with depths of over 100ft in some areas, it is often necessary to use jig heads from 30g up to 50g. But, as you are vertical jigging – dropping the lure off the rod tip, and not casting – a light, fast rod like the Quantum PT Accurist Spin is ideal for targeting massive shoals of 1lb-4lb zander.
The heavy jig heads enable you to keep bow in the braid to a minimum, so you are able to work the lure correctly and ‘keep in touch’ with the bait while bouncing it along the bottom. On a slow day, with a few missed bites, the best fish of the test was a 5lb 9oz zander, taken in around 70ft, a few yards off the pumping tower. It put up one hell of a scrap from such a depth, but was easily tamed.
I would class this rod as decribed ‘on the tin’. It is a lighTt spinning rod, a little heavy for pure drop shotting and notquite heavy enough for some of the larger soft plastics and hard lures. But, as a light, middle-ground rod, it is brilliant. Having a very ‘tippy’ action, but with plenty of grunt in the bottom end, it is a lure rod that will serve you admirably whether you’re targeting bigger perch, zander or up to double-figure pike. It’ll certainly be in the boat on my next Rutland trip!
Casting weight: 3g to 12g
Multi-coloured CNC EVA handle
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